Fears continue about the future of A&E services in Sutton after NHS London bosses refused to give assurances over the future of St Helier hospital.

Following a presentation to councillors last week, Andrew Woodhead, head of mergers and acquisitions at NHS London, said the transition board was “working on an assumption that services would remain”, but would not guarantee that St Helier hospital could continue to provide A&E and maternity services in the future.

He said the proposed merger of St Helier and St George’s in Tooting was an organisational matter, which would allow the hospital to achieve Foundation Trust status.

But he said the future of services was being dealt with by a separate review of healthcare in south west London called Better Services Better Value.

Following questions from councillors, senior members of staff from NHS London confirmed that phase one of the £219m redevelopment of St Helier would go ahead, despite the planned merger.

Councillors also quizzed them on what would happen if the St George’s bid was unsuccessful.

They were told the board is already looking into the various scenarios, and coun Colin Stears earned a promise that the council would be involved in these discussions.

Coun Stears said: “It was disappointing, but not surprising, that we did not receive the guarantees we had hoped for.

"The council was united in wanting assurances on the future of local A&E services, which look increasingly under threat in the light of this proposed merger.

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow said:“The lack of clear assurances from NHS bosses reinforces the need to make sure that they are made to understand that any loss of services which are best provided at a hospital won't be tolerated by local residents.

“We have a few weeks left to make sure that we have a firm commitment that any merger between St George’s and St Helier will boost the chances of keeping these services.

"This is why I am working hard to make sure that as many local people as possible make their voice heard either directly or through my petition."

He said he had written to NHS London chief executive Ruth Carnall to underline his concern at a time when we should be looking forward to having a state of the art rebuild St Helier, we were again seeking reassurances about the hospitals long term future.